The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology (2002)


The authors made 39 surveys (a total of 161 days) in the Tian-e-Zhou Oxbow of the Yangtze River, China, for observing 13 Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides asiaeorientalis) captured from the main stream of the Yangtze River and 7 juveniles born in the oxbow from January 1997 to July 2000. The animals were usually divided into several “core” groups and moved around in shallow, muddy-bottom areas with the largest individual in the lead. Each core group was composed of 2-3 animals (either 2 adults, 1 adult and 1 juvenile, 2 adults and 1 juvenile, or 2 adults and 1 calf). Newly-released animals joined the other animals first, and then reorganized their own groups one or two days later. Average breath interval was 34.4 s (± s.d. 4.39) for individuals in the group. The animals mated from May through June and gave birth during the second and last ten days of April of the next year. The gestation period was estimated as 310 – 320 days. Calves over 5 months old began to eat small fish. The distance of calves swimming apart from their suspected mothers increased each month. These findings will help in the management of the reserve to protect this unique freshwater porpoise.